Want a lower credit card interest rate? Just ask

If you’re unhappy with your credit card’s interest rate, securing a lower one may be as simple as asking your credit card issuer. They may decline your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you’ve established a history of on-time payments and other responsible behavior with the issuer, your odds may be good.

A lower interest rate can ensure you pay less in interest over time, so it’s worth asking. You may even be able to qualify for a 0 percent APR on a credit card for a limited period of time, although you’ll typically need good or excellent credit to qualify for that type of offer.

In this guide, we’ll explain several ways to lower your credit card interest rate, including the following:

Find competitive credit card offers

Credit card companies don’t want to lose your business, which is why they need to stay competitive with other issuers. Look for a credit card that’s similar to yours and compare the interest rates. If you find a similar card with a better APR, take note and be sure to share that information when you call your issuer.

Make sure the offer is actually competitive. If you have poor credit, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to compare your APR to the APR of a credit card that requires excellent credit.

Call your card issuer and ask

First, try directly contacting your credit card issuer and asking for a lower interest rate. You know what they say—It never hurts to ask. If you have kept up with payments and have a solid history of responsible credit use with your credit card issuer, it’s possible they’ll lower your interest rate just to keep your business. The worst they can say is “no.”

And if you were able to find a better offer from another issuer, relay that information to the representative. You may find they’re more willing to negotiate if you make it clear you’re considering taking your business elsewhere.

Still no luck? You can also try the HUCA method. HUCA stands for “hang up, call again” and, as the name suggests, involves hanging up and trying again if you don’t like the first response you receive. It’s possible a second (or third) customer service representative might be more accommodating to your request than the first.

Improve your credit score

Whether you’re going to apply for a new credit card or trying to negotiate a lower APR on your current credit card, a good way to land a better interest rate is to take some steps toward improving your credit score. One of the easiest ways to give your credit rating a boost is to pay your credit card bill early or on time every month.

You should also refrain from opening too many new accounts, which leads to multiple hard inquiries on your credit report, and closing accounts, which can increase your credit utilization. Both moves can negatively impact your credit score, along with other factors.

If you have a lot of debt in relation to your credit limits, you can also improve your credit score by paying off your debt. Most experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate below 30 percent for the best results, which means maintaining $3,000 or less in revolving balances for every $10,000 in total credit you have.

If denied, apply for a balance transfer card

One way to pay less in interest for a limited time is to apply for a balance transfer credit card, most of which let you secure a 0 percent intro APR on transferred balances for 12 to 21 months. Just keep in mind that these offers typically include balance, so you won’t get access to that 0 percent APR for free. However, applying for a balance transfer credit card is a great option to consolidate debt without further hurting your credit.

With a top balance transfer card like the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card, for example, you get a 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months (up to 21 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro period) followed by a variable APR of 12.99 percent to 24.99 percent.

However, a 3 percent intro balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies to balance transfers made within the first 120 days (5 percent or $5 after that). To determine whether a balance transfer will actually save you money, use a balance transfer calculator.

Learn more: What happens when my 0 percent intro APR period ends?

The bottom line

There is one tried and true method for avoiding credit card interest altogether. If you only make purchases you can afford to pay off, and you pay your credit card bill in its entirety every month, you will never get charged a dime in interest payments.

If you do end up with debt, you want the lowest interest rate possible. Securing a lower interest rate may be as simple as asking your current credit card issuer to lower your APR. In other cases, it may make sense to apply for a new card and transfer your balance over.